If you’ve been looking for a reliable and cost effective surveillance camera system, you’ve probably come across DVR options. Unlike traditional analog surveillance camera, these systems record and store video footage digitally. Hence the name DVR which means digital video recorder. This means that these DVR systems allow for higher quality video and a lower level of maintenance. Unlike IP Cameras, however, DVR systems do not connect to the internet (and do not have the capability to). They are closed circuit systems, which means they are only connected locally to each other and not to any networks. To help you get a better idea of what you’re getting into when purchasing an DVR system, I’m going to go over how DVR security camera systems work and what they can and cannot do.

A Digital CCTV

A DVR system consists of a set of closed circuit cameras that are all connected to a DVR device or a computer capable of digital recording. Many people upgrade existing analog closed circuit television (CCTV) systems to these digital DVR systems; all that needs to be done is to replace the VCR with the DVR. Many people opt to have CCTV security pros to come install their system for them.

The cameras will record digital videos onto the hard drive of the DVR or computer. Your main limitation will be how much space you have on your hard drive. This will also be affected by the quality at which you are recording your video footage; the higher number of frames per second, the larger the files. When you run out of space, your DVR will stop recording unless it’s programmed to overwrite old data once it reaches capacity.

The footage can be access from the hard drive on a computer. Because they are digital files, scanning through the footage is much easier than with traditional CCTV footage (where you need to fast forward and rewind to the desired time). Most cameras will stamp the footage with a time and date, and browsing through the footage on a computer is a much more efficient experience.

Pros and Cons

The great thing about these DVR surveillance camera systems are that they are affordable, the footage is secure (as long as the physical DVR is secure), and they can record high quality videos. Some more advanced cameras can be equipped with motion sensors and audio kits that allow them to turn on and record only when they detect motion. This greatly saves on storage space and the need for someone to perpetually monitor the video feed.

The cons to a DVR system is that it can’t be connected to any networks. This means that you won’t be able to check in on your video feed from anywhere besides the DVR or computer on location. With IP cameras, on the other hand, you can turn on a live stream of the footage from the camera from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, no matter where you are, as long as you have a connection to the internet. DVR systems also require robust amounts of storage. Even if you have a fancy camera that only operates when their sensors go off, you still need that storage there to record as much as you can when the cameras turn on. Depending on how many cameras you have, that can really add up. With IP cameras, they can easily be hooked up to sensors and alarms and immediately upload footage to the cloud online as soon as it’s recorded. That way, even if the camera and the whole system is stolen, the recording will still be online. With a DVR system, since it’s closed circuit, everything is local, so anyone can tamper or steal the DVR if they want to protect or destroy the footage.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you are planning to use the security system for. If you just want to save recordings throughout the day to review later on, and you don’t plan to access the footage online in real time, then a DVR system will be more affordable and relevant to your needs. However, if you want your system to be connected to the internet and you don’t have access to (or want to pay for) immense amounts of hard disk storage space, then IP cameras, while generally more expensive, will give you high quality security footage with a wider range of application.